Press Release

NIU Law Holds 10th Annual Minority Alumni Reception

March 1, 2013

DeKalb, Ill.--The Northern Illinois University College of Law held its 10th Annual Minority Alumni Reception hosted by alumnus Vincent Cornelius (’89) on February 19, 2013. The event, which honors NIU Law’s commitment to diversity, welcomed over 80 NIU Law students, alumni, faculty, judges, and political leaders from around the Chicago area at Carnivale restaurant in Chicago.

After guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres, Dean Jennifer Rosato addressed the gathering, speaking of the goals of the event: to celebrate the accomplishments of the College of Law in its mission of diversity, to connect the generations of NIU Law, and to call the Law School community to action in advancing diversity in hiring, elections, and legal work.

She then conceded the floor to Cornelius, who regaled the reception with tales of the Minority Reception’s humble beginnings as well as his pride and gratitude for its growth over the past decade. Cornelius then honored two exceptional individuals who embody the spirit of diversity and excellence that NIU Law strives to grasp. He gave the Breaking New Ground Award to both the Honorable Rene Cruz (’95) and the Honorable Chrystel L. Gavlin (’96).

Hon. Rene Cruz was appointed Associate Judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit of Illinois on November of 2012. At the time of his appointment, he was the first Latino judge in Kane County, Illinois. Cruz has accomplished a great deal in his time as an attorney, having served as past president and legal counsel for the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, member of the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Board-Business Roundtable, and member of the Rasmussen College Advisory Board. In 2010, Cruz was named Alumnus of the Year by the NIU Law Alumni Council. Prior to receiving his J.D. from NIU Law, Cruz received his bachelor’s degree from The Citadel Military College in South Carolina.

Hon. Chrystel L. Gavlin was appointed Associate Judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit of Illinois, also in November of 2012. As Cornelius informed the reception, at the time of her appointment she was the first African-American woman to become a judge in Will County, Illinois. Cornelius and Gavlin are good friends, having worked in many of the same capacities during their legal careers. Like Cornelius, Gavlin was an accomplished lawyer working in her own practice at the law offices of Chrystel L. Gavlin, P.C. for ten years before joining the bench. Also like Cornelius, she worked in the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office, and then later in the Will County District Attorney's Office, serving as a prosecutor. Gavlin holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Francis in Joliet, also Vincent Cornelius’s alma mater, in addition to her J.D. from NIU Law.The evening was said to be thoroughly enjoyable for all who attended. Numerous valuable connections were made between students and alumni. The College of Law is hopeful for another ten rewarding years of this special event.


For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or